In Review: McIntyre, Mechavich, and Irvin in "stunning" "Moby Dick" at Utah Oper

'Moby-Dick’ opera transforms a massive novel into a human-scaled epic

Review • Utah Opera gives the world its first look at a stunning reimagining

"A full house of opera fans (including Heggie and Scheer) got their first look at this stunning new production at the Capitol Theatre Saturday night. . . Kristine McIntyre’s authoritative stage direction pull the audience into the action. McIntyre has made exceptionally intelligent use of the space, onstage and off, and wisely brought in choreographer Daniel Charon and four dancers to assist in the work of the ship. This might be the best use anyone has ever made of the Utah Opera Chorus, expertly prepared by new chorus master Michaella Calzaretta. The men not only sang powerfully but also threw themselves into the choreography’s rigorous physical demands. . . Other standouts included . . . tenor Joseph Gaines and baritone Craig Irvin as sailors Flask and Stubb. . . Capping this operatic triumph was the Utah Symphony’s vivid performance of Heggie’s rich score, conducted by Joseph Mechavich." -Salt Lake Tribune

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"In perhaps their greatest feat to date, Utah Opera premiered their re-imagining of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s masterwork Moby-Dick this last Saturday at the Capitol Theatre. . . Utah Opera, along with director Kristine McIntyre and conductor Joseph Mechavich saw the potential to present an accessible production so that this masterwork might be better showcased with more companies to more audiences. . . Some other performers of note from the evening are the energetic Habersham as Pip, Joseph Gaines as Flask and Craig Irvin as Stub. . . Music for the evening was provided by the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera Chorus under the careful direction of Michaella Calzaretta (Chorus Master) Mechavich (Conductor). With such a difficult and complex score, it is always comforting to have the direct and guiding hand of a skilled musician like Mechavich leading the way through the battlements. . . Opera lovers and novices alike should try and make their way to Utah Opera’s imaginative production of the American classic Moby-Dick at the Capitol Theater. Being a practitioner of music and theatre, I often find myself trudging to the theatre filled with both anxiety and regret. Once I become involved in the art form, the flaws and faults become easy to spot. But sometimes I see a production that reinvigorates my faith in the theatre. Utah Opera’s production of Moby-Dick was such an experience for me, as it demonstrated theatre can still be a vehicle for imaginative, accessible, and creative art. Don’t miss this fantastic offering here in Salt Lake City." -Front Row Reviewers Utah

Read full review. Opera review: All whale breaks loose in Utah Opera's captivating 'Moby-Dick' "It didn’t take long for Utah Opera’s production, under the guidance of stage director Kristine McIntyre, to take on a dark, almost cultlike feeling. . . In her telling of Melville’s story, stage director McIntyre made remarkable use of space on and off the stage. . . Also aiding this effort were four dancers from Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company — a unique choice from McIntyre — whose choreography, under the direction of Ririe-Woodbury Artistic Director Daniel Charon, contributed to the continual movement and motion of life on the sea. . . The storytelling quality of Heggie’s music also stood out as a character, giving each main sailor aboard the Pequod a chance to shine through a variety of duets, vocally complex solos and moving ensemble numbers led by conductor Joseph Mechavich." -Deseret News

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"Enter Utah Opera, in this its 40th year, whose pioneering efforts have produced a simplified version that is not just available, it’s clearly downright viable as demonstrated by Kristine McIntyre’s modest yet intense new production. . . Across two substantial acts, the 75-strong Utah Symphony under Joseph Mechavich do a superb job of bringing these resourceful scorings to life, playing with grace and strength in equal measure. . . There are harpoon chases, men overboard and a nasty case of St Elmo’s fire to deal with, not to mention the chilling appearance of the baleful “white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw”, the twisted harpoons still peppering his flanks. Most, if not all of the above is tackled with aplomb by McIntyre through the agency of Erhard Rom’s clean-limbed sets, Marcus Dilliard’s sensitive lighting and Jessica Jahn’s carefully observed period costumes. . .McIntyre moves her players effectively around the space, adroitly solving many of the transitional problems. The feeling of claustrophobia can work to McIntyre’s advantage too, as when the gruesome rendering of whale blubber is forced to rub up against a sublimely peaceful trio. . . The rest of the Pequod’s motley crew are strongly cast all round with another fine baritone, Craig Irvin, as the playful Stubb"

-Limelight Magazine

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"Conductor Joseph Mechavich displayed equal flair for both the rhapsodic and intimate extremes in this varied score, and he shaped the evening’s musical arc with a firmly controlled reading. . . His buddy, Stubb was enthusiastically impersonated by Craig Irvin, who showed off a shining, meaty baritone that was steady even as he was called upon to simultaneously do a sprightly jig. Indeed both Mssrs. Gaines and Irvin were delightfully fleet of foot in their animated performances. . . As impressive as all of these demonstrably fine singers were singly, they were most remarkable for their impressive ensemble work, thanks to inspired direction from Kristine McIntyre. Ms. McIntyre thrives on large cast extravaganzas, managing to move masses of singers meaningfully about the playing space, all the while effectively focusing attention on solo moments as required. She crafted richly detailed character relationships, and seemed to effortlessly manufacture one telling stage picture after another. . . I would sail well out of my way to see anything this talented director undertakes. She is especially adept at synchronized gestures, steps, and percussive effects, and there were many potent passages of unison group movement"

-Opera Today

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"The fact that the setting works so effortlessly is also due to director Kristine McIntyre’s deft blocking and staging that make full use of the available space. Working together, Rom and McIntyre have come up with a highly successful formula that should play well in other regional opera houses. . . Under conductor Joseph Mechavich, the members of the Utah Symphony playing for this production executed the score with finesse and lyricism and well-defined, dynamic clarity and expression.This is a production that has a lot going for it. And with this revised, smaller scale version, it has the possibility of reaching an even wider audience around the country." -Opera Wire

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